Capable Handling Of Your Family Law Appeal

When your trial or hearing does not go your way, would pursuing an appeal just be a waste of time or do you really have a chance? Before answering that, you need to know the rules of filing appeals.

At SIEGELLAW, our experienced family law attorneys can answer your questions for you. We will provide guidance as well as provide a straightforward evaluation regarding your chances for success.

Deadlines For Filing An appeal

There is nothing more important than following the Maryland rules for filing your appeal. Depending on what you are appealing, the time for appealing could be two days, seven days, 10 days, 30 days, or even a different period of time. If you do not timely file your appeal, you will likely lose the right to pursue your appeal.

Filing A Notice Of Appeal

In order to file your appeal, you must alert the court or other relevant agency of your intent to seek an appeal. That must be done in writing to the proper office. It is not a judge's responsibility to inform you of your appellate rights (except in limited criminal matters). Therefore, if you are even thinking about appealing, hire an attorney to file the appeal now. You can always later decide to withdraw your appeal, but you can never seek a belated appeal.

Filing Fees For Appeals

In several situations, there is also a filing fee associated with filing the appeal. If you file the appeal but forget the filing fee, you cannot pursue the appeal. A few appeals do not require a filing fee. Most appeals do require a filing fee. Most administrative appeals also require a filing fee.

The Appeals We Can Handle For You

In family law cases, appeals fall into a few discrete categories, although there are a few other minor appellate rights in addition to these:

1. Appeal From A Temporary Or Final Domestic Violence Protective Order

Parties have a right to appeal from both temporary and final protective orders. Many are familiar with the right to appeal from the granting of a protective order. However, very few people understand you can also appeal from the denial of a protective order. If you appeal from a protective order that was granted or denied in the district court, you may seek a new trial in the circuit court. This is called a de novo appeal. If your initial trial was in the circuit court, you may seek review from the Court of Special Appeals, but that appeal will be on the record, as opposed to being granted a new trial.

2. Appeal From A Pendente Lite Hearing

In many family law cases, the first hearing you will have is a pendente lite hearing, where a master will hear testimony and enter a report and recommendation on issues ranging from custody, visitation, child support, use and possession of a family home, contribution to a mortgage, alimony, counsel fees and far more. If you disagree with the recommendations of the master, you can ask a judge to independently review that ruling. There is a very short window of time to seek this review, as little as 10 days from the date of the ruling, and you cannot come to an attorney on day 10 to seek that appeal.

3. Appeal From A Family Law Trial

If you are not satisfied with the results of your trial, you have numerous appellate rights, but each right has its own deadline, which could be as few as 10 days from the ruling. Here are examples of your possible rights of appeal:

  • Asking the court to reconsider or give a new trial.
  • Asking for a panel of three other circuit court judges to review the ruling from the original judge.
  • Asking for a panel of three judges from the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland to review the ruling from the original judge.

If the trial judge made an error of law that is central to your rights, the reviewing judges have the ability to vacate that ruling for further proceedings, which could involve a partial or entire new trial.

If the trial judge erred on the facts or failed to provide appropriate analysis, the reviewing judges have the ability to vacate that ruling, as well.

Appeals from rulings in family law cases are challenging, difficult, and the appellate judges are charged with the responsibility of giving a great deal of deference to the trial judge, since that judge heard the witnesses firsthand. Nevertheless, appeals from rulings in family law cases are among the highest volume of matters appealed to the appellate courts in Maryland.

How Much Will My Appeal Cost?

Different types of appeals have different costs associated with them. When you speak to an attorney at SIEGELLAW, we will inform you of all of the costs and fees associated with your appeal. In addition to counsel fees, there are filing fees, the costs of obtaining transcripts from the lower court, as well as the cost of creating extensive record extracts, which are often thousands of pages long if appealing a lengthy hearing. You will know all of the costs associated with your appeal before you decide to seek appellate review.

Contact SIEGELLAW, in Ellicott City, by calling 410-792-2300 to speak to an experienced family law lawyer and to find out your legal options concerning the appeal of your family law or divorce matter. We provide regular consultation for Howard County residents and individuals across all of Maryland.